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1.  Structural and functional consequences of buserelin-induced enteric neuropathy in rat 
BMC Gastroenterology  2014;14(1):209.
Women treated with gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogs may develop enteric neuropathy and dysmotility. Administration of a GnRH analog to rats leads to similar degenerative neuropathy and ganglioneuritis. The aim of this study on rat was to evaluate the early GnRH-induced enteric neuropathy in terms of distribution of neuronal subpopulations and gastrointestinal (GI) function.
Forty rats were given the GnRH analog buserelin (20 μg, 1 mg/ml) or saline subcutaneously, once daily for 5 days, followed by 3 weeks of recovery, representing one treatment session. Two weeks after the fourth treatment session, the animals were tested for GI transit time and galactose absorption, and fecal weight and fat content was analyzed. After sacrifice, enteric neuronal subpopulations were analyzed. Blood samples were analyzed for zonulin and antibodies against GnRH and luteinizing hormone, and their receptors.
Buserelin treatment transiently increased the body weight after 5 and 9 weeks (p < 0.001). Increased estradiol in plasma and thickened uterine muscle layers indicate high estrogen activity. The numbers of both submucous and myenteric neurons were reduced by 27%–61% in ileum and colon. The relative numbers of neurons containing calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), cocaine- and amphetamine-related transcript (CART), galanin, gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP), neuropeptide Y (NPY), nitric oxide synthase (NOS), serotonin, substance P (SP), vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) or vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAchT), and their nerve fiber density, were unchanged after buserelin treatment, but the relative number of submucous neurons containing somatostatin tended to be increased (p = 0.062). The feces weight decreased in buserelin-treated rats (p < 0.01), whereas feces fat content increased (p < 0.05), compared to control rats. Total GI transit time, galactose absorption, zonulin levels in plasma, and antibody titers in serum were unaffected by buserelin treatment.
A marked enteric neuronal loss with modest effects on GI function is found after buserelin treatment. Increased feces fat content is suggested an early sign of dysfunction.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12876-014-0209-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4275936  PMID: 25496312
Enteric neuropathy; Enteric subpopulations; Gastrointestinal (GI) tract; Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH); Luteinizing hormone (LH); Somatostatin
2.  Evaluation of gastrointestinal symptoms in different patient groups using the visual analogue scale for irritable bowel syndrome (VAS-IBS) 
BMC Gastroenterology  2011;11:122.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastrointestinal (GI) dysmotility disorders have a similar clinical picture, although dysmotility disorders require the attention of a specialist. Patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) have also been described to suffer from IBS-like symptoms. No objective marker is available to distinguish between the patients. A visual analogue scale has been developed for IBS patients (VAS-IBS) to measure treatment response of GI symptoms and well-being in patients with IBS. The aim of the present study was to examine if VAS-IBS could be used to compare the degree of GI complaints in different patient populations, to get an objective marker to differentiate between the patients.
The VAS-IBS consists of 7 VAS scales, namely, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating and flatulence, vomiting and nausea, psychological well-being and the intestinal symptoms' influence on daily life. Consecutive female patients suffering from IBS, dysmotility disorders and pSS were asked to complete the VAS-IBS questionnaire when visiting the out-patient clinics. In addition, a control population consisting of healthy female volunteers was included.
Healthy volunteers had almost no GI symptoms, whereas all 3 patient groups expressed symptoms. There was no statistical significant difference between IBS and dysmotility in any of the scales besides vomiting and nausea (p = 0.044). Except for constipation, patients with pSS had less severe symptoms than the others.
The VAS-IBS questionnaire could be used to assess the level of GI symptoms. However, VAS scores do not help the clinicians to differentiate between IBS and other dysmotility disturbances.
PMCID: PMC3248355  PMID: 22073983
3.  Antibodies against gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and destruction of enteric neurons in 3 patients suffering from gastrointestinal dysfunction 
BMC Gastroenterology  2010;10:48.
Antibodies against gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and gastrointestinal dysmotility have been found after treatment with GnRH analogues. The aim of this study was to examine the presence of such antibodies in patients with dysmotility not subjected to GnRH treatment and study the anti-GnRH antibody effect on enteric neurons viability in vitro.
Plasma and sera from 3 patients suffering from either enteric dysmotility, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gastroparesis were analysed for C-reactive protein (CRP), and for GnRH antibodies and soluble CD40 by ELISA methods. Primary cultures of small intestinal myenteric neurons were prepared from rats. Neuronal survival was determined after the addition of sera either from the patients with dysmotility, from healthy blood donors, antiserum raised against GnRH or the GnRH analogue buserelin. Only for case 1 a full-thickness bowel wall biopsy was available for immunohistochemical analysis.
All 3 patients expressed antibodies against GnRH. The antibody titer correlated to the levels of CD40 (rs = 1.000, p < 0.01), but not to CRP. Serum from case 3 with highest anti-GnRH antibody titer, and serum concentrations of sCD40 and CRP, when added to cultured rat myenteric neurons caused remarkable cell death. In contrast, serum from cases 1 and 2 having lower anti-GnRH antibody titer and lower sCD40 levels had no significant effect. Importantly, commercial antibodies against GnRH showed no effect on neuron viability whereas buserelin exerted a protective effect. The full-thickness biopsy from the bowel wall of case 1 showed ganglioneuritis and decrease of GnRH and GnRH receptor.
Autoantibodies against GnRH can be detected independently on treatment of GnRH analogue. Whether the generation of the antibody is directly linked to neuron degeneration and chronic gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with intestinal dysmotility, remains to be answered.
PMCID: PMC2885307  PMID: 20487533
4.  Polymorphism in the oxytocin promoter region in patients with lactase non-persistence is not related to symptoms 
BMC Gastroenterology  2009;9:90.
Oxytocin and the oxytocin receptor have been demonstrated in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and have been shown to exert physiological effects on gut motility. The role for oxytocin in the pathophysiology of GI complaints is unknown. The aim of this study was to examine genetic variations or polymorphism of oxytocin (OXT) and its receptor (OXTR) genes in patients with GI complaints without visible organic abnormalities.
Genetic variants in the OXT promoter region, and in the OXTR gene in DNA samples from 131 rigorously evaluated patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), 408 homozygous subjects referred for lactase (LCT-13910 C>T, rs4988235) genotyping, and 299 asymptomatic blood donors were compared. One polymorphism related to the OXT gene (rs6133010 A>G) and 4 related to the OXTR gene (rs1465386 G>T, rs3806675 G>A, rs968389 A>G, rs1042778 G>T) were selected for genotyping using Applied Biosystems 7900 HT allele discrimination assays.
There were no statistically significant differences in the genotype or allele frequencies in any of the SNPs when IBS patients were compared to healthy controls. Among subjects referred for lactase genotyping, the rs6133010 A>G OXT promoter A/G genotype tended to be more common in the 154 non-persistent (27.3%) subjects than in the 254 lactase persistant (18.1%) subjects and in the healthy controls (19.4%) (p = 0.08). When direct comparing, the A/G genotype was less common in the OXT promoter region in controls (p = 0.09) and in subjects with lactase persistence (p = 0.03) compared to subjects with lactase non-persistence. When healthy controls were viewed according to their own LCT-13910 genotypes, the C/C lactase non-persistent controls had a higher frequency for the OXT promoter A/G genotype than LCT-13910 T/T lactase persistent controls (41.2% vs 13.1%).
No significant differences in frequencies of the investigated OXTR SNPs were noted in this study.
The results suggest that polymorphism in the promoter region of the OXT gene is most common in subjects with lactase non-persistence. This polymorphism may not be related to GI symptoms, as it is related to lactase non-persistence also in healthy controls.
PMCID: PMC2789731  PMID: 19943975
5.  Gastroparesis is associated with oxytocin deficiency, oesophageal dysmotility with hyperCCKemia, and autonomic neuropathy with hypergastrinemia 
BMC Gastroenterology  2009;9:17.
Gastrointestinal (GI) dysmotility and autonomic neuropathy are common problems among diabetics with largely unknown aetiology. Many peptides are involved in the autonomic nervous system regulating the GI tract. The aim of this study was to examine if concentrations of oxytocin, cholecystokinin (CCK), gastrin and vasopressin in plasma differ between diabetics with normal function and dysfunction in GI motility.
Nineteen patients with symptoms from the GI tract who had been examined with gastric emptying scintigraphy, oesophageal manometry, and deep-breathing test were included. They further received a fat-rich meal, after which blood samples were collected and plasma frozen until analysed for hormonal concentrations.
There was an increase in postprandial oxytocin plasma concentration in the group with normal gastric emptying (p = 0.015) whereas subjects with delayed gastric emptying had no increased oxytocin secretion (p = 0.114). Both CCK and gastrin levels increased after the meal, with no differences between subjects with normal respective delayed gastric emptying. The concentration of vasopressin did not increase after the meal. In patients with oesophageal dysmotility the basal level of CCK tended to be higher (p = 0.051) and those with autonomic neuropathy had a higher area under the curve (AUC) of gastrin compared to normal subjects (p = 0.007).
Reduced postprandial secretion of oxytocin was found in patients with delayed gastric emptying, CCK secretion was increased in patients with oesophageal dysmotility, and gastrin secretion was increased in patients with autonomic neuropathy. The findings suggest that disturbed peptide secretion may be part of the pathophysiology of digestive complications in diabetics.
PMCID: PMC2650701  PMID: 19243587
6.  Subclinical sympathetic neuropathy appears early in the course of Crohn's disease 
BMC Gastroenterology  2007;7:33.
We have previously demonstrated that patients with Crohn's disease (CD) of long duration have signs of autonomic neuropathy. The aim of this study was to examine whether autonomic neuropathy is an early manifestation of CD, or a sign appearing late in the course.
Twenty patients, median age 40 years, with a short duration of CD were included. Examination of autonomic reflexes included heart rate reaction to tilt (acceleration index – AI, brake index – BI) and heart rate variation to deep-breathing (expiration/inspiration index-E/I). Seven years later the same examinations were repeated, and in addition we examined the vasoconstriction response to indirect cooling by laser Doppler (vasoconstriction-index – VAC-index). The results were compared with healthy individuals.
There was no difference in the blood pressure between controls and the patients with CD at rest, but eight minutes after tilt, the systolic blood pressure was lowered in patients compared to controls, both at the first assessment (p = 0.016) and after seven years (p = 0.042). The change in systolic blood pressure between rest and eight minutes after tilt was not significant at the first assessment, while a significant change compared to controls was observed seven years later (p = 0.028). This indicates a progressive dysfunction. There were no differences in E/I, AI, BI or VAC indexes between patients and controls.
Patients with CD suffer from autonomic neuropathy early in their disease, suggesting involvement of many different organ systems in this entity.
PMCID: PMC1978494  PMID: 17697346
7.  Development and psychometric testing of the Visual Analogue Scale for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (VAS-IBS) 
BMC Gastroenterology  2007;7:16.
The aim of this study was to develop and psychometrically test a short, patient-reported questionnaire to be used in clinical practice for patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The Visual Analogue Scale for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (VAS-IBS) questionnaire was designed to measure the treatment response of symptoms and well-being in patients suffering from IBS.
The VAS-IBS was psychometrically tested for content and criterion validity, scale acceptability, item-reduction, internal reliability consistency, simplicity, and speed. Two samples were used. One expert panel (five physicians and four registered nurses), who gave their opinion on the content validity, and one of 71 patients with IBS (mean age 38 years SD +13, range 19–65), who completed the VAS-IBS, as well as the Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale and the Psychological General Well-Being Index for criterion validity.
The items in the VAS-IBS capture the main physical concerns women with IBS might present and the psychometric testing confirmed that the VAS-IBS is an acceptable homogeneous patient-reported questionnaire indicated by Cronbach's alpha internal consistency reliability coefficient, with a value of 0.85. All correlations to test the criterion validity performed by using Pearson's correlation test, were statistically significant (p < 0.0001) and in the expected directions. The VAS-IBS is easy to complete and unproblematic to calculate.
The VAS-IBS appears to be reliable and user-friendly, for patients as well as for health professionals. The final version of the VAS-IBS including nine items needs to be further tested in clinical practice cross-culturally in women as well as in men.
PMCID: PMC1868742  PMID: 17475020
8.  A case report on a patient suffering from recurrent vomiting episodes, whose condition improved markedly during pregnancy and breast feeding 
BMC Gastroenterology  2006;6:28.
The normal physiology of the gastrointestinal tract has been only cursorily examined. Consequently, the pathophysiology of disturbances of the gastrointestinal functions is poorly known. Recurrent vomiting is one of many functional conditions for which it is difficult to find an explanation and to treat. In the following a case is described of a patient presenting with recurrent vomiting episodes, whose condition improved spontaneously during pregnancy and breast feeding.
Case presentation
A woman with recurrent vomiting episodes over several years was examined by esophagogastroduodenoscopy. This showed a non-peristaltic ventricle. Treatment with the procinetic drug cisapride (Prepulsid®) improved the peristalsis and reduced the symptoms. During pregnancy and breast feeding, she was free of symptoms, in spite of having discontinued her medication with cisapride (Prepulsid®).
The fact that the patient improved during pregnancy and breast feeding, would seem to indicate the involvement of factors in the physiology of pregnancy and breast feeding that are of importance for gastric motility. This deserves further investigation.
PMCID: PMC1624839  PMID: 17054800
9.  The oxytocin/vasopressin receptor antagonist atosiban delays the gastric emptying of a semisolid meal compared to saline in human 
BMC Gastroenterology  2006;6:11.
Oxytocin is released in response to a meal. Further, mRNA for oxytocin and its receptor have been found throughout the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The aim of this study was therefore to examine whether oxytocin, or the receptor antagonist atosiban, influence the gastric emptying.
Ten healthy volunteers (five men) were examined regarding gastric emptying at three different occasions: once during oxytocin stimulation using a pharmacological dose; once during blockage of the oxytocin receptors (which also blocks the vasopressin receptors) and thereby inhibiting physiological doses of oxytocin; and once during saline infusion.
Gastric emptying rate (GER) was assessed and expressed as the percentage reduction in antral cross-sectional area from 15 to 90 min after ingestion of rice pudding. The assessment was performed by real-time ultrasonography. At the same time, the feeling of satiety was registered using visual satiety scores.
Inhibition of the binding of endogenous oxytocin by the receptor antagonist delayed the GER by 37 % compared to saline (p = 0.037). In contrast, infusion of oxytocin in a dosage of 40 mU/min did not affect the GER (p = 0.610). Satiation scores areas in healthy subjects after receiving atosiban or oxytocin did not show any significant differences.
Oxytocin and/or vasopressin seem to be regulators of gastric emptying during physiological conditions, since the receptor antagonist atosiban delayed the GER. However, the actual pharmacological dose of oxytocin in this study had no effect. The effect of oxytocin and vasopressin on GI motility has to be further evaluated.
PMCID: PMC1434749  PMID: 16542457
10.  Clinicians' management strategies for patients with dyspepsia: a qualitative approach 
BMC Gastroenterology  2005;5:15.
Symptoms from the upper gastrointestinal tract are frequently encountered in clinical practice and may be of either organic or functional origin. For some of these conditions, according to the literature, certain management strategies can be recommended. For other conditions, the evidence is more ambiguous. The hypothesis that guided our study design was twofold: Management strategies and treatments suggested by different clinicians vary considerably, even when optimal treatment is clear-cut, as documented by evidence in the literature. Clinicians believe that the management strategies of their colleagues are similar to their own.
Simulated case histories of four patients with symptoms from the upper gastrointestinal tract were presented to 27 Swedish clinicians who were specialists in medical gastroenterology, surgery, and general practice and worked at three hospitals in the southern part of Sweden. The patients' histories contained information on the patient's sex and age and the localisation of the symptoms, but descriptions of subjective symptoms and findings from examinations differed from history to history. Interviews containing open-ended questions were conducted.
For the same patient, the management strategies and treatments suggested by the clinicians varied widely, as did the strategies suggested by clinicians in the same speciality. Variation was more pronounced if the case history noted symptoms but no organic findings than if the case history noted unambiguous findings and symptoms. However, even in cases with a consensus in the scientific literature on treatment, the variations in clinicians' opinion on management were pronounced.
Despite these variations, the clinicians believed that the decisions made by their colleagues would be similar to their own. The overall results of this study indicate that we as researchers must make scientific evidence comprehensible and communicate evidence so that clinicians are able to interpret and implement it in practice. Of particular significance is that scientific evidence leads to an evidence-based care which is effective clinical practice and to the promotion of health from the perspective of the patient, together with cost-effectiveness as a priority.
PMCID: PMC1173099  PMID: 15892895
gastrointestinal tract; decision-making; dyspepsia; qualitative evaluation
11.  Oxytocin and cholecystokinin secretion in women with colectomy 
BMC Gastroenterology  2004;4:25.
Cholecystokinin (CCK) concentrations in plasma have been shown to be significantly higher in colectomised subjects compared to healthy controls. This has been ascribed to reduced inhibition of CCK release from colon. In an earlier study CCK in all but one woman who was colectomised, induced release of oxytocin, a peptide present throughout the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The aim of this study was thus to examine if colectomised women had a different oxytocin response to CCK compared to healthy controls.
Eleven women, mean age 34.4 ± 2.3 years, who had undergone colectomy because of ulcerative colitis or constipation were studied. Eleven age-matched healthy women served as controls. All subjects were fasted overnight and given 0.2 μg/kg body weight of CCK-8 i.v. in the morning. Samples were taken ten minutes and immediately before the injection, and 10, 20, 30, 45, 60, 90 and 120 min afterwards. Plasma was collected for measurement of CCK and oxytocin concentrations.
The basal oxytocin and CCK concentrations in plasma were similar in the two groups. Intravenous injection of CCK increased the release of oxytocin from 1.31 ± 0.12 and 1.64 ± 0.19 pmol/l to 2.82 ± 0.35 and 3.26 ± 0.50 pmol/l in controls and colectomised women, respectively (p < 0.001). Given the short half-life of CCK-8 in plasma, the increased concentration following injection could not be demonstrated in the controls. On the other hand, in colectomised women, an increase of CCK in plasma was observed for up to 20 minutes after the injection, concentrations increasing from 1.00 ± 0.21 to a maximum of 1.81 ± 0.26 pmol/l (p < 0.002).
CCK stimulates the release of oxytocin in women. There is no difference in plasma concentrations between colectomised and controls. However, colectomy seems to reduce the metabolic clearance of CCK. The hyperCCKemia in patients who had undergone colectomy is consequently not only dependent on CCK release, but may also depend on reduced clearance.
PMCID: PMC529435  PMID: 15471545

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